Port-Related Funding Slashed in President's FY'21 Budget
While overall budget request is higher than last year's, all port-related programs would receive less than in FY'20 appropriations
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – the recognized and unified voice of America’s seaports – welcomed support in President Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget for two vital U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) competitive infrastructure grant initiatives, known as BUILD and INFRA. However, the association registered strong concerns over significant declines to other federally funded, port-related programs when compared against this year's appropriation funding levels.
“We’re very apprehensive about the President’s fiscal 2021 budget,” said Chris Connor, AAPA president and CEO. “Adequate federal investments into U.S. port-related infrastructure, on the landside and the waterside, are crucial for the safe, efficient movement of goods so the nation can remain globally competitive, and this budget doesn't get us there.”
In a 2016 survey, AAPA found that U.S. ports and their private-sector partners planned to spend approximately $31 billion a year through 2020, provided the infrastructure outside the ports’ jurisdiction, such as roads, rails, bridges, tunnels and navigation channels, would support those investments.
“Activities at U.S. seaports account for more than a quarter of the nation’s economy, support over 31 million American jobs and generate more than $378 billion a year in federal, state and local tax revenue. It’s vital the federal government uphold its end of the partnership with ports to ensure the country has a 21st century goods movement system in place.”
Proposed for the budget chopping block is the USDOT’s Port Intermodal Infrastructure Program (PIIP), which began as the Port Infrastructure Development Grants program in FY'19. By the end of this fiscal year, the PIIP will have awarded more than $500 million in grants to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of multimodal movement through our nation’s seaports.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grants Program (PSGP), which Congress last funded at $100 million, is in the President’s FY'21 budget, but at a reduced level, which is typical of past budgets that have either proposed reducing the funding level or eliminating the program entirely in favor of consolidating several security grant programs. This new budget has a funding request for the PSGP at $36.4 million, representing a two-thirds cut from the FY'20 appropriated level.
Additionally, President Trump has also proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by 31 percent. EPA’s budget funds the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants, which would be slashed by 89 percent over FY'20 enacted levels. These grants have proven helpful in decreasing port-related diesel emissions in near-port communities and have helped ports to make investments in clean diesel equipment that have resulted in reduced air emissions at the ports themselves.
Led by a 20 percent increase in construction funding, the President’s FY'21 budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coastal navigation program would rise 10 percent compared to his FY'20 budget request. While AAPA acknowledges this increase, the amount is still nearly 40 percent less than FY'20’s appropriated level.
“We live in an interconnected world, and overseas trade … 99 percent of which moves through ports … is absolutely vital to our economy,” said Mr. Connor. “Federal investments into port-related infrastructure, security and environmental programs pay huge dividends in terms of economic growth, good American jobs and supporting activities that generate sizable tax revenues. AAPA will be working with Congress on behalf of its members to meet and exceed FY'20 appropriation levels for fiscal 2021 funding of all port-related federal programs.”
About AAPA Founded in 1912 and recognized as the unified voice of seaports in the Americas, AAPA today represents 140 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 250 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. Cargo activities at U.S. seaports support nearly $31 million American jobs and account for 26 percent of the U.S. economy, generating nearly $5.4 trillion in total economic activity and more than $378 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2018. To meet the growing demand for trade, AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable. For more information, visit www.aapa-ports.org. On Twitter: http://twitter.com/AAPA_Seaports